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Joined: Feb 2011
Posts: 29
OP Offline
I am planning a trip to Ambergris Caye in October and want to bring some school supplies down with me to donate to one of the schools. I have searched the Internet to locate schools and these are the names I've found.

St. Peter's Elementary
La Isla Bonita Elementary
The Island Academy
San Pedro High School
San Pedro Roman Catholic Primary School
Holy Cross Anglican School

My question is for people who live on AC or have been there. Which of these schools is the most needy?

Are there any issues with school supplies with customs at the international airport?

Can a package be shipped on a commercial flight as baggage?


Joined: Apr 2005
Posts: 1,436
All the schools need supplies and i would never recommend one over the other. School supplies brought into Belize are considered stationary at a duty of 30% plus 12 1/2 % GST, being a donation usually does not matter. Thats 42 1/2 % duty. If you dont have receipts they will guess the value, you are better off to have receipts, make them if you were given items and have none. Now you can get around that by contacting the school you decide on and sending them a list of what you are bringing, they can send that on to the Ministry of Finance to have duty waived. You can also contact The Ministry of Finance. This process takes a few weeks and you will need to have the approval letter with you when you arrive. I am the Director of a Humane Society here, sometimes our donors slide by customs with donations for us. Other times if its a large amount, like a whole suitcase it can be a nightmare. A package can be sent on the airlines as baggage, but it will be considered as a piece of luggage, and you will have to pay any excess fees. You would think any country would accept folks bringing in donated stuff for good causes, sadly its not always true.

Joined: Jun 2012
Posts: 7
By bulk purchasing they could get these items for pennies and better quality as well. Better yet if the import duty is waived. It seems to me that someone(s) is getting wealthy off the backs of the school children, and to the detriment of their education. have identified schools in need and will put your school supplies in the right hands, most likely in the Toledo district.


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Joined: Sep 2010
Posts: 333
Again, contact Linda Carter @ Holy Cross, the school just north of the bridge. She can email you a letter, and it's not been a problem for MANY of us. I brought an entire suitcase, tagged HEAVY, no extra fees with airlines cuz I personally travel light. When you get to the country, divide the supplies between schools, however you see fit.

Yes, the schools in Toledo are very "worthy". An adorable little Mayan was dressed in her navy blue uniform, offering trinkets to tourists (near a place we stopped for lunch). I declined her offer, and said, "But, I have something for you! I have school supplies" she and her even littler sister came to our car and I loaded them both up...they were headed to school that day. She even modeled her uniform for me. Then, much to my surprise, a bit later she beckond me to come over (I motioned her to come to me, but the business owners forbit them from coming on the property). She handed me a small woven basket with a shy smile and a little curtsey. When I got back to my table and opened the basket, there was a shell necklace...and a lovely handwwritten note which had tears streaming down my face. A thank you and her name and address. Adorable child! These same children, all over Toledo, generally have their lessons outdoors, sitting on the ground, under an open structure. A rather beautiful sight (in nice weather, of course). It is also my understanding that there are about 500 children on Ambergris Caye who are unable to attend school because there simply aren't enought schools. Tragic with the amount of wealth on that island.

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Joined: Feb 2011
Posts: 29
OP Offline
Thanks for the replies. I will contact Linda at Holy Cross as well as the Ministry of Finance.

Joined: May 2006
Posts: 3,299
Good pens are something appreciated.

A&R at the bottom of middle street sells some supplies at decent prices if you want to do some of your shopping locally. Colomojo said she saw dustless chalk there cheaper than it was stateside.

San Pedro based Belize Blog since 2007 - great travel resources & discounts

Joined: Sep 2007
Posts: 513
There are some things that are better bought on the island. The dustless chalk I've seen was $2BZE and I think that was for a 20 count box, yet the pens I brought Miss Linda (Pentel fine point). I could not find. Sure there are Pentel pens on the island but this particular one I could not find. We have brought donations in with just a letter but this last time, the customs office told us better to go through the Minister. There is a wish list on the Holy Cross website. A lot of the schools have TONS of crayons, pencils etc...I would check with whichever school you want to donate to and see what they really need. I am one though who appreciates others who donate too!

Live Laugh Love
Joined: Jan 2012
Posts: 11
Another option is working with SageBrush Church. They have a missions department that works with several schools even in Caye Caulker. You can contact Katrina at danandkatrin[email protected] and they will help you with anything you need.
Thank you so much for making room in your suitcase for the kids here, so selfless of you and a wonderful blessing to them.

Joined: Feb 2011
Posts: 29
OP Offline
I haven't had any luck contacting the Ministry of Finance through email. A contact at the school tried to put me in contact with someone that might be able to help get a letter from the MOF to bring in donations, but no response from that person either.

I guess I'll just bring in some school supplies in my suitcase and take my chances with customs. I have a letter from the school, but I don't know how much weight that carries.

I can't believe how difficult it is for someone outside the country to try to help these kids.

My question is should I just try to pass through with the supplies in my suitcase or should I declare them and show the customs agent the letter from the school?

Joined: May 2000
Posts: 7,044
Unless it is a huge amount of stuff I would say don't declare it, bring it through. They are usually very cool about it if you are talking about pens, crayons, colouring books etc.

Now if it is a new photocopier, projector or some such item you are going to have to declare it.

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